Commission approves new plan for environmental task force

John Hacker

A committee concerned with the environment in Jasper and Newton counties will take on a new look and status pending the adoption of resolutions by the County Commissions of Jasper and Newton counties.

Jasper County Commissioners on Thursday adopted a plan to revamp the board for the Environmental Task Force of Jasper and Newton Counties, and give it new status as a county-sponsored task force.

"The new status with the commissioners gives us a home," Nichols said. "One of our principal activities will be to serve as a resource to the two county commissions on environmental concerns. If they have a question about the environmental affect of some kind of development, we're available to respond. I envision we'll offer that same type of service to the several communities in the county."

The task force has existed for years and has been instrumental in getting federal recognition of the environmental consequences of the century of mining lead, zinc and other minerals around Joplin in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

One project currently ongoing as a result of the task force's work is the cleanup of mining wastes and rehabilitation of land between Webb City and Carterville.

Nichols said the task force has other ongoing projects as well as new environmental concerns to tackle in the near future.

"As far as the new direction, of course we've got a lot of work still to do working with the EPA in the mining areas, but I think a concern is going to develop in the near future over air quality in our area," Nichols said. "We're currently working on a watershed management plan for the lower Shoal Creek and probably towards the end of the year we'll start looking at the Spring River and the watershed there."

The task force's board will be made up initially of four members from Jasper County and three from Newton County, although Nichols said he plans to recommend the board expand almost immediately to 14 members, eight from Jasper County and six from Newton County.

Carthage Press